Review – 13th

Review – 13th


Rating:  4 (out of 5).  In the new Netflix documentary 13th, scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the fact that the nation’s prisons are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.  The critics found the film extremely relevant given the current situation in the country and very intense. They thought it was well made, powerful, and worth watching.

The Hollywood Reporter describes this as “Composed yet intense, measured yet impassioned, analytical yet deeply emotional.” They say it is an “eloquently articulated testimony as to how far the nation remains from true racial equality will be a must-see for the socially engaged public, will spur countless reflections in the media and will be widely watched.”

The Rolling Stone thinks this is Oscar material. They call it an “incendiary, indelible and indispensable document about the myth of racial equality in America.” They say “DuVernay has molded her doc into a living history of slavery as an institution that won’t quit. Her voice, heard through a chorus of other committed voices, is a wake-up call none of us can afford to ignore.”

Entertainment Weekly gives it an A saying  “Talking heads as varied as Angela Davis and Newt Gingrich (and old audio of racist ghouls like J. Edgar Hoover and Lee Atwater) help pull the hundreds of threads around the issue together.” They call her approach “crisp” and says “13th never goes soft.”

The New York Times calls this “Powerful, infuriating and at times overwhelming,” They think “Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13TH will get your blood boiling and tear ducts leaking.”

Variety writes “DuVernay has made a film that possesses a piercing relevance in the age of Black Lives Matter and the unspeakable horror and tragedy of escalated police shootings.” They think “DuVernay’s chronicle of this crisis is heartrending and enraging; if that’s all the movie did, it would be invaluable. Yet “13TH” also travels deep into history, connecting every link in the chain to reveal how we got here.”

The Los Angeles Times thinks “13th” makes its important point with “undeniable eloquence as well as persuasive force.”

The New Yorker calls this “brilliantly analytical and morally passionate.”

The New York Daily News writes “Directed with calm passion and controlled outrage, the movie — named after the amendment which outlawed slavery, but left a significant loophole when it came to criminal convictions — is a study in profits. And power.”

The Guardian thinks “The 13th makes its case with alacrity, clarity and a dash of pizazz.” They say “A few small hiccups aside, 13th is very much not a Michael Moore film. It is organized, detailed and powerful. It is also bleak as hell, and, unfortunately, does not conclude with advice on what to do next.”

Vulture brings up the fact that “in the main 13th makes connections that haven’t been made in a mainstream documentary before.” They note “13th has its mannerisms. No one interviewed looks at the camera, which is almost always arcing around him or her. The movie is frankly exhausting, with too much information (and too many brilliant interviewees) to do justice to here.”

The New York Post is one of the few who thinks “the film is a morass of distortions, half-truths, calculated omissions, absurd hyperbole and outright falsehoods.”

The Tampa Bay Times gives it a B+ and says “The format is fairly conventional for a documentary, mostly featuring talking-head interviews and archive footage. Occasionally the film is broken up with black-and-white animated graphics and mini-lyric videos for politically charged artists ranging from Nina Simone to Killer Mike.”


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